In any profession, it’s common to stick to what you know. While architects are the creatives that must carefully weigh a number of needs, from space design and lighting to the client brief and available products, they also need to make sure that the exterior of a building gives the right impression, is functional for its intended purpose and is sustainable.

Urbanisation, the changing workforce and client needs are challenging the role of specifiers regarding exterior space design and highlighting the importance of forward-thinking exterior spaces. Customary distinctions between indoor and outdoor activities are being blown away by current design trends, with an increasing number of architects creating permeable and seamless transitions between the indoors and outdoors. Decorative elements that are typical of interior spaces are being included outdoors and elements that extend the traditional “outdoor seasons”, such as living and working spaces, are being incorporated outside with thoughtful and dynamic exterior design.

Here’s how to plan your exterior space the next time you take on a project:

1. Will you need decking?
Wood decks, concrete patios, and composite decking are all fantastic exterior solutions. The option your client invests in will depend on the maintenance they will be able to devote to maintaining their deck, the longevity that is needed as well as how hard wearing the deck surface needs to be. Thanks to advances in the industry, many decking solutions offer fast and ergonomic installations. There are also a number of decking systems on the market that offer waterproofing protection benefits, acoustic advantages and easy maintenance, so be sure to shop around before you choose a decking system.

2. What type of digital connectivity will you need outside?
Today, people spend less time in the office than ever before, but we’re not working less. The typical working environment has evolved through flexibility, and employees are looking for more memorable work spaces outside the confines of four walls. Ask your client whether things like access flooring will need to be extended outdoors so that workers can take their work outside. Consider what type of flooring would make sense for their cleaning and maintenance staff as well because more people working outside means that these floors will need to be regularly cleaned.

3. Will you need artificial grass?
Many parts of the country have water shortages, which makes artificial grass a necessity in certain regions. Your client can reduce the costs associated with maintenance and water consumption of natural grass with this product, and it is ideal in project locations where irrigation is a challenge. The use of artificial grass extends beyond the exterior of the building as there are many applications that you may not have thought of such as shopping malls, common areas, median strips and rooftops.

4. Should you consider permeable paving?
Vehicle and pedestrian pathways allow water to flow through it, which can decrease storm water runoff as well as prevent soil erosion and flooding. Permeable pavers are extremely versatile and can be laid in everything from public parks and commercial garages to golf cart lanes, boat parking areas and commercial driveways.

5. How about stone?
Stone offers a certain aesthetic appeal that can enhance many buildings and spaces. Besides commercial projects, you can also consider a variety of stone (such as limestone, seamless quartz flooring, marble and porcelain pavers, among others) for anything from amusement parks and stadiums to theatres, museums, airports, schools, hotels and retail centres.

6. Should you install rubber flooring?
Rubber comes with a variety of inherent advantages that have made it an extremely popular flooring option for commercial, high-traffic environments. While many designers still associate rubber flooring with indoor applications such as playrooms, gyms and garages, rubber possesses certain physical qualities that make it a great material for use in exterior applications. The tile and sheet formats are available in a variety of textures and colours and some of the ideal applications include patio floors, barns, and using it to protect wood or concrete flooring.

Dynamic spaces need to be created to fulfil the ever-increasing requirements people are placing on quality exterior design.

7. What type of car park decking will you need?
Will your project have a multi-storey, an underground or an outside car park? Factors such as whether you are designing a parking facility for a specific development or a public car park built for profit will all impact on the solution you choose.

Specialised tip: Architects need to ensure that the exterior of a building gives the right impression, is functional for its intended purpose and is sustainable.

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.quartzcarpet.co.za, www.belgotex.co.za, www.eva-last.co.za, www.flowcretesa.co.za, www.flourateeter.com, www.fieldofgreen.com, www.paversearch.com, www.thespruce.com and www.rubbercal.com for some of the information contained in this article.

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